Saint Mary’s Curriculum Goes Digital

Saint Mary’s College has received a $250,000 grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation ( to fund the Digital Studies Across the Curriculum project.  The goal of the initiative is to develop faculty and staff technological capacity, improve media lab infrastructure and to foster digital interdisciplinary learning opportunities for undergraduates in the School of Liberal Arts and the School of Science.

The innovative project will establish six pilot courses that will form the core of a Digital Studies minor in the School of Liberal Arts, in collaboration with the School of Science. The central focus of the new academic minor is to instill a comprehensive digital proficiency within students, including fundamental understanding of systems architecture and software applications and the social impact of digital culture.

The grant covers training to enhance faculty knowledge of instructional methods using digital media and provides opportunities for new course content related to digital studies. Additionally, the project will establish a review process and sustainability guidelines for new courses and help faculty members prepare for the integration of digital studies across the broader curriculum.

Provost Beth Dobkin said the College is extremely pleased the W.M. Keck Foundation is supporting the new academic initiative. “The Digital Studies Across the Curriculum Project aligns with strategic goals in the College’s Academic Blueprint,” said Dobkin. “It will allow faculty in the School of Liberal Arts and School of Science to create distinctive educational experiences that incorporate new media and digital studies broadly across the disciplines, and it will ensure that digital literacy is embedded in Saint Mary's curriculum."

The project, which is funded from January 2012 through December 2014, will help build Saint Mary’s capacity to serve its entire undergraduate student body. Additionally, it will allow more than 50 faculty members to benefit from professional development opportunities. Enrollments in the proposed Digital Studies minor are projected to produce 15 graduates annually and overall, 400 students could enroll in an estimated 20 courses that will integrate digital media at the College. 

Ed Tywoniak of the Communication Department will serve as project director.  Other faculty involved in the initiative are Charlie Hamaker (Math & Computer Science), Peter Freund (Art & Art History), Dana Herrera (Anthropology), Dan Leopard (Communication), Ellen Rigsby (Communication), Aaron Sachs (Communication) and Jim Sauerberg (Math & Computer Science).  Administrators for the project include School of Liberal Arts Dean Steve Woolpert and CaTS Chief Technology Officer Ed Biglin.

This grant was made through the W.M. Keck Foundation’s undergraduate education program, which supports inventive approaches to instruction and effective involvement of students in research at U.S. colleges and universities.  The foundation also supports science, engineering and medical research and makes grants to Southern California nonprofit organizations.  Based in Los Angeles, the W.M. Keck Foundation was established in 1954 by the late William Myron Keck, founder of The Superior Oil Company.